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Government Corner Certificates



Filing a Corner Certificate

A CERTIFICATE OF LOCATION OF GOVERNMENT CORNER, a.k.a. Corner Certificate, is a document developed by a licensed land surveyor to mark a Public Land Survey (PLS) corner location.  When a survey or plat is made, proper recording of a Corner Certificate(s) is required, with its location referenced to local landmarks and or referenced to other adjacent PLS corners.

Pursuant to Section 3-4 of the Minnesota Department of Transportation hand book SURVEYING AND MAPPING MANUAL, dated April 20, 2007:

"The Certificate of Location of Government Corner is the written record of the present condition and the history for the public land survey corner.  To be useful for posterity, this document must be properly completed, provide an unquestionable location, and assure the total perpetuation of the government corner when made of public record.  A monument without a history is of little value as evidence and a new monument marking the location of a government corner is worthless if it cannot be identified in the 


GUIDELINES FOR PREPARATION OF: CERTIFICATE OF LOCATION OF GOVERNMENT CORNERS Pursuant to section 3-4.01 of the Minnesota Department of Transportation hand book SURVEYING AND MAPPING MANUAL, dated April 20, 2007: (also see applicable statutes)

The Certificate of Location should be a complete document relating to the location, monumentation, perpetuation and history of a corner.  If done properly, the need for future surveyors to research the past record evidence will be greatly reduced or eliminated.  The following outline provide a guideline for preparation of a Corner Certificate.  See template documents available below.

  • Corner Index System
    • Identify the lowest Township number common to the corner.
    • Identify the lowest Range number common to the corner.
    • Identify the lowest Section Number common to the corner.
    • Identify the corner location in the identified section. i.e., North Quarter, Northeast, East Quarter, etc.
    • Identify closing corners in the proper section.
    • If a corner is on a county line it should be identified and filed in each county.
    • List Section, Township, Range, Principal Meridian and County.
  •  Monument
    • Check the appropriate statement on the Certificate of Location for monument at corner location.
    • Indicate date of recovery and/or placement of monument.
    • Describe the monument in detail and give relationship to ground elevation.
    • If a monument is removed, during construction or for other purposes, explain fully under statement of evidence (on back of page).
  •  Sketch of Reference Ties
    • Make a minimum of two ties, more if practicable.
    • Identify the reference points in detail, e.g., nail and disc on S.W. side of (diameter) burr oak, distance above ground.
    • Reference tie distances are horizontal unless clearly stated on sketch.  Show difference in elevation and direction of slope for slope measurements.
    • Direction of reference point from corner should be given by:
      • Point of compass. i.e., N, NNE, NE, ENE, E, etc., or
      • By a bearing (preferred). i.e., N50°E.  For bearings indicate on sketch their basis of orientation and accuracy.
    • Show the improvements in the immediate vicinity such as roads, including name or number, buildings, fences, tree lines, retaining walls, field lines, and their relation to corner.
    • Indicate if corner is on a Correction Line.
  •  Statement of Evidence
    • Include all record evidence that relates to the history of this corner chronologically beginning with Public Land Survey.
    • Include all parole evidence and testimony concerning corner location.  List name, age, residence, address, job title, and how information was obtained.
    • Include all information on field search and excavation.  Indicate extent and depth of excavation; soil profile characteristics; present and original ground elevations could be added.
    • Include information on monument found in place.  Identify type and size of monument; who, when and how it was placed in addition to a photo.  Indicate in statement of evidence if no information is found on the origin or history of monument.
    • Method used to set lost or obliterated corners must be stated in a short summary with supporting evidence.
    • When a coordinate value is known, the coordinates may be listed.  If the coordinates are enumerated, the reference coordinate system must be indicated.
    • Analyze all of the information on the document.  Indicate the reasons for the decisions made in the form of a summary or conclusion statement.



Corner Certificates may be filed directly with the County Recorder.  Regular filing/recording fees will be required for Corner Certificates filed directly with the County Recorder.

Alternately, Corner Certificates may be submitted to the County Surveyor’s office for review prior to recording.  If the Corner Certificates conform to the guidelines and are consistent with other county corner records, the County Surveyor’s office will forward them to the County Recorder’s office and the filing/recording fee will be waived.

All surveys subject to review and approval by the County Surveyor and described by reference to the PLS must be based upon recently certified corners.



The importance of restoring and maintaining the monuments of our Public Land Survey (PLS) system is well known. Saint Louis County has established a payment system to encourage PLS corner perpetuation. This program, funded through Saint Louis County, will provide financial assistance to private sector land surveyors for PLS corner perpetuation which occurs during the course of a private land survey. 

The primary focus of this program is to obtain good quality, corner certificates for corner monuments which do not presently have a Location of Government Corner Certificate on file with Saint Louis County. 

The program will be administered as follows:

  • The program will be managed on a first-come-first served basis, subject to available funding.  All PLS corner perpetuation shall satisfy the requirements of Minnesota State Statute 38l.l2 Subd. 3.
  • Application Forms, and Certificate of Location of Government Corner templates can be obtained at the Public Works Department/Land Survey Division office or online at the County Surveyor's Office web page.
  • Corners funded by this program shall include those corners of the original Public Land Survey (Section Corners, Quarter Corners, and Meander Corners) in St Louis County.
  • The Saint Louis County Surveyor's Office reserves the right to deny applications or payment for PLS corner perpetuation under, but not restricted to, the following conditions:
  • Existing application is already on file or a current Certificate of Location of Government Corner is already recorded for the subject corner.
  • The application is being made by a government agency or pertains to a corner required for work contracted by a government agency.
  • The application does not directly relate to a current private survey.
  • The application pertains to a survey requiring County Surveyor approval and signature. (For such surveys, corner certificates are required but will not be reimbursed.)
  • The certificate does not demonstrate credible evidence and/or the use of reasonable and accepted survey methodology supporting the subject monument.

The reimbursement fee shall be $150.00 per completed corner certificate. An additional $250.00 premium will be paid for each corner certificate that provides the monument location (± 0.5 ft positional tolerance) by latitude and longitude, Minnesota State Plane North Zone coordinates or Saint Louis County Transverse Mercator (SLCTM96) coordinates referenced to NAD 83 (86) or NAD 83 (96) HARN. Datum must be clearly specified and will be subject to the County Surveyor's review and approval.

Applicable Statutes




  Minnesota State Statute 160.15 Preserving Section or Quarter-Section Corners  
  Minnesota State Statute 38l.l2 Section Corners Relocated  
  Minnesota State Statute 507.093 Standards for Documents to be Recorded or Filed  
  Minnesota State Statute 507.24 Recordable, When